The Complications Of Minecraft’s Paid Server Situation

By Nathan Grayson on June 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

Edit: Please note that we’ve updated and expanded this post to lend more clarity to what is a complicated and still-changing issue.

Yesterday we posted about the outraged reaction to Minecraft’s new no-charging-for-gameplay-affecting items policy and, in turn, Notch’s response to that. That initial post was pretty dismissive of the anger because it didn’t really seem like Mojang had changed a whole lot. The newly published ruleset is a clarification of the existing regulations rather than a modification or expansion, but some servers will find their core means of monetization cut off by the eventual enforcement of those rules. Many monetization options will remain, however, and looking at the specifics of Mojang’s restrictions sheds light on what the developer would like to prevent.

It should be stressed again that the rules are not new. They’ve been reworded and are due to be enforced more strongly than before but the purpose of the restrictions remains the same as it has ever been. If Mojang made a mistake, it lay in the length of time they permitted servers to exist in Minecraft’s ecosystem while working against the company’s legally enforcable attitude toward in-game payments. Put simply, Mojang seem to be attempting to prevent the recognisable traits of ‘pay-to-win’ from taking root on Minecraft servers – but the roots are already in place so on August 1st, they’ll begin the process of weeding the garden.

August 1st is the date that the rules regarding monetization will be enforced from, but servers will still have many options to charge players. The clamp-down targets servers that allow use of ‘hard currency’, including Bitcoins or other elements that can be converted into real money, and specific ‘gameplay-affecting features’ such as boosters and item-generators. Essentially, as was always intended, servers can charge subscriptions, entry fees or for timed access, but every user must have the same possibilities available to them.

Essentially, Mojang’s rules appear to be designed to prevent pay-to-win, or pay-to-advance servers. While this will undoubtedly affect some servers, particularly those that rely on earnings from XP boosts and equipment for competitive play, the EULA still provides freedom to charge for servers, including at the most basic level – an entrance fee or recurring subscription fee.

Mods are permitted, as long as everybody using the server is seeing and using the same infrastructure, and servers can still include minigames. The rules state that minigames must be available to all though, so you won’t be able to pay 50p for tickets, although in-game ‘soft’ currency is allowed and could be earned on the server to swap for items. If a form of currency is earned in-game and can’t be exchanged directly for cash outside the game, or indeed transferred from one server to another, then it’s within the rules.

This will affect networks such as Shotbow, which have premium packages that provide ‘permanent grappling hooks’, team-joining abilities and other advantages. Many of the benefits are cosmetic though and those would still be permitted, as would any ‘advantage’ that doesn’t provide a direct in-game superiority or perk.

Kotaku spoke with a number of members of Minecraft’s mod scene, including Shotbow, who claim that the enforcement of the rules will damage their operations severely.

Many of the more elaborate Minecraft server networks take a great deal of money to manage. Shotbow Network has three full-time staffers and five part-timers. Together they’ve created mods like MineZ and Light Bikes. Owner Matt Sundberg explained his perspective:

“Large server networks are incredibly expensive to run and are very time consuming. Most large networks run hundreds of Minecraft servers, along with enterprise DDOS protection, databases, dedicated proxies, and web infrastructure. In addition to that, many employ full time staff to manage the hundreds of hours of labor required for server maintenance and plugin development.”

There is also a concern that while legitimate servers will play by the new rules, the ones that made this into a problem to begin with – greedy vultures out for freshly minted wallet carrion – will simply find new ways to break them. From that perspective, nobody wins.

Whatever the case, Minecraft’s wider community is set for a wake-up call. How much will change is difficult to predict and it seems clear that only certain types of server should be affected by the long-time coming enforcement. Come August 1st, the deadline’s up and – if need be – Mojang will bring out lawyers. It’s their garden after all. Whatever the specifics of the case, the fact remains that businesses built around making money from someone else’s business will always face potential upheaval.

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131 Comments »

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    Nathan! That policy is not new, it has been in the EULA for ages. It has just been poorly enforced up to this point.

    • RedViv says:

      Well, maybe if we are going for the archaic use of the word for when you actually stand up for the rules…

    • SquareWheel says:

      This coverage has been extremely poor. The new rules are *more* permissive, these server owners that are so pissed off they can’t exploit people any more have been breaking the rules for years. Props to Mojang for actually standing up.

      • WelshPixie says:

        They aren’t NEW rules though, that’s the whole point. It’s the same EULA that’s existed for a year or more – they’ve just come up again recently, caused a fuss, and Mojang have clarified what the EULA will and won’t let you do. It’s the same EULA, nothing has changed, nothing has been added, nothing has been removed. It’s not new. It’s a confusing enough situation to begin with and any journalist with but a modicum of integrity would realise that it’s doing more harm than good to report on the situation in such a way that confounds rather than clarifies the existing confusion.

        • Artist says:

          Its not about the changes – its about the publicity it creates. Mojang wants to know everybody that technically all servers are illegal in the way they are financed. Pity.

          • Bull0 says:

            Why is it a pity? Mojang making the public aware that exploitative pay-to-win servers aren’t backed up by Minecraft’s EULA is a good thing.

          • Tacroy says:

            “technically all”? What are you talking about?

        • SquareWheel says:

          Sure they are new rules. They’re working with lawyers as we speak to take their two blog posts on the subject and turn it into legal mumbo jumbo for the new EULA. The point isn’t the change though, the point is that the new rules are more permissive, not less. And how RPS got this so wrong I don’t even understand.

          • WelshPixie says:

            Well, not so much new rules as exclusions to the existing unchanged non-new rules. The only new thing is that they’re lifting previous restrictions.

            I also can’t fathom how the coverage of this whole thing is so shit. There are two very clearly written blog posts on the Mojang.com website that explain the whole thing – SURELY the first thing a journalist would do is go straight to the source?

          • Taidan says:

            @WelshPixie

            That’s what a an actual Games Journalist would do, yes. These guys are merely bloggers, and in the blogging world, as we’ve seen ably demonstrated on these hallowed pages many, many time in the past, page views > journalism.

          • toxic avenger says:

            What are you babbling about over there? Where are all these sensationialist articles for pageviews you speak of? Wait a minute, let me guess: the posts that deal with “the ladys” and “treating everyone equal,” otherwise known as being civilized? Am I correct?

          • Taidan says:

            What are you babbling on about?

            Are you trying to create a strawman argument, or is this a disingenuous setup for another one of your infamous misogynist Toxic Avenger rants?

  2. Artist says:

    Another important thing is that server owners basicly “trained” their players to demand more for a mere donation for server upkeep. Today almost nobody donates to the cause of a server if you dont add something on top – which is usually gameplay features, ingame items or vanity items.
    Nonetheless the big servers and networks rake in an amazing profit, despite their high costs. Its pretty much cashcows. But yes, running big servers is expensive.

    I wonder if its a coincidence that Mojang aims for the servers, that basicly makes up the online community, while they currently expand their own crappy server service “Realms”. Theres not much Mojang had to show of in the past 1-2 years besides getting their regular media attention to optimize income.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      You’re still allowed to sell vanity items and even allowed to charge for access to a server.

      • Artist says:

        Vanity items are a minority among so called donation perks. Thats the core of the current problem – from a server-owners perspective.

        • rustybroomhandle says:

          I’m a server owner. Why the heck do so many people presume to speak for me?

          • Artist says:

            Who are you anyway? Sorry, but do you matter? Nobody talks about you at all.

          • Geebs says:

            You really lepton that one

          • rustybroomhandle says:

            Artist – me? In the big scheme of things, nobody. But just like everybody on the planet, I fall into various groups/demographics. One of these happens to be “server owner” as it pertains to this discussion. It’s generally bad form to phrase sentences such that you assume your words apply to everyone within a group. Example: “Gamers don’t like teddy bears.” … MAYBE SOME DO.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            I like teddy bears.

          • dethtoll says:

            Who are you anyway? Sorry, but do you matter? Nobody talks about you at all.

            Sorry, sorry, sorry, I wasn’t going to jump in here as I have no dog in this fight, but holy fuck you are a colossal dipshit and you need to punch yourself in the face. He just said “don’t speak for me” and your immediate reaction is to insult him because he doesn’t march in lockstep with what you think server owners should think? Are you a sociopath or just a Republican/UKIP/tumblr user/blinkered idiot of your choice?

          • toxic avenger says:

            “It’s generally bad form to phrase sentences such that you assume your words apply to everyone within a group.”

            Do you realize how hard even normal, everyday conversation would be if you followed this rule? C’mon, don’t be a pedant.

          • GorillaOne says:

            It’s super easy. You just speak for yourself, and not other people. Give it a shot.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      As far as I’m concerned, donations shouldn’t get you anything more than a warm feeling in your heart. Anything else is a purchase.

    • GSGregory says:

      This is the way I see it. Notch made a great game in minecraft. Now he gets to see people charge for access to minecraft features. 1. He is probably tired of all the complaints and issues caused by such. 2. Probably not happy that people are charging for minecraft. No one likes things like all the mobile games nickel and diming every thing in the game so why do we want that in minecraft a paid game.

  3. Suction Testicle Man says:

    Newsflash: restrictively-licenced proprietary software makes it difficult for third parties to modify and/or redistribute it. They’re lucky Mojang are so nice; many other companies wouldn’t give a toss. These modders really should consider pouring their efforts into something licenced accordingly if their livelihoods depend on it.

    • eisbehr says:

      That’s what I thought as well. If you build a business in violation of someone’s license or ToS, don’t come crying when they tell you to stop (Or in this case just to scam less).

      That’s why we have free software. There’s no freedom in proprietary software. And don’t say RMS didn’t tell you so for years :D

    • Martel says:

      Well put

  4. observerrr says:

    I have yet to see a constructive argument from a legal standpoint against mojang. I would like to hear some.

    My thoughts are: It is their game, they have the right to assert their policy.

    Many of the personal arguments against their policy are also self centered; others are not even that. If you are unable to make money of of someone else’s product, while adhering to law, then it is only your fault, not that product’s creators.

    *Why are we still discussing this?*

    • Spectre-7 says:

      I have yet to see a constructive argument from a legal standpoint against mojang. I would like to hear some.

      My thoughts are: It is their game, they have the right to assert their policy.

      At least in this jurisdiction (US), it seems like the issue would fall under the purview of first sale doctrine, which is the legal principle that a seller has no authority to dictate how their product is used after sale. The only thing allowing Mojang to dictate terms here is their EULA, which as a general method is still largely untested in courts. Even given that their EULA is found to be enforceable, specific clauses and requirements may be struck down depending on their legality, and that’s all part of the very complex morass that is contract law.

      Finally, it could be argued that later updates to the EULA might not be enforceable against early purchasers, as they were never party to the agreement in the first place. The law seems to dislike contracts wherein one party can change the terms at will.

      Not that I’m a lawyer or anything… I’m a sci-fi writer playing devil’s advocate, so apply copious grains of salt as necessary.

      • supermini says:

        Ah, but what you are sold is not software, but the license to use software. That’s the principle the software industry is built upon.

        To quote from the Software and Information Industry Association website: “Software is not sold, it is licensed. Someone who purchases a software license is not the “owner of a particular copy,” they are an “owner of a license to use a copy” of the software. Thus, the first sale defense does not apply. Because most electronic content is also obtained through a license, the first sale doctrine would likewise not apply to that content because the user does not own a copy of the work, he only has access to it through the license. As a result, it is the terms of the software or content license that will control whether the software or content can be transferred and not the first sale defense or any other provision in the copyright law. Accordingly, licensees should consult the license agreement to determine whether the licensed copy may be re-distributed.”

        Until someone successfully challenges this in court (not very likely), that’s how it is.

      • supermini says:

        On a side note, it’s interesting that you can get away with treating software as property (IP laws) and non-property (licensing), depending on what suits you.

    • LinXitoW says:

      Technically, streamers and youtubers were all also in a grey area, or at the very least, Mojang could’ve brought down the hammer, and screwed them all over.

      Yet, Mojang realized that so many people make a living this way off their product and chose to explicitly allow it.

      I don’t understand why this situation would be different.

      • Stromko says:

        Youtubers and pay-for-advantage business models are very different in terms of their effect on the community. Youtubers and other Let’s-Plays are considered very good for a game (unless it’s incredibly crappy, but even then it probably drums up more interest and curiousity buys than a crappy game would get otherwise), whereas pay-for-advantage is considered exploitative of players and bad for the community.

        There’s obviously different perspectives to take on this, but in this case it’s clear that Mojang likes youtubers and hates pay-to-advance cash shops. It’s their game, it’s easily their main source of income right now, so how their game is monetized and how that will effect their community is obviously in their interest.

    • Damien Stark says:

      “My thoughts are: It is their game, they have the right to assert their policy.”

      I just feel like this whole discussion has become surreal, because I can’t imagine more than 5% of RPS commenters making that same assertion if the company we were talking about here was EA, or Ubisoft.

      There’s a sort of blanket assumption (when dealing with large game publishers at least) that “I paid for a copy of your game, so I can do what I want with it.” Full stop.

      Now it’s Mojang trying to enforce their rules about what you can do with their game on your own server, and all of a sudden there’s a fair amount of RPSers saying “well yeah, they own the game, it’s pretty reasonable for them to make the rules of what you’re allowed to do with it…”

      • supermini says:

        I don’t see EA or Ubisoft ever allowing you to earn money from running a server for one of their games. But even if they did, there would be no difference.

      • toxic avenger says:

        You know what? You’re absolutely right. Thing is, legally speaking, EA is doing nothing wrong by enforcing the EULA under the current law. Can you blame them for not being logically consistent? I mean, they make crappy arguments all day that pirating should be legal because “That’d be fair.”

        • Stromko says:

          Some people will make those arguments, but pro-piracy messages are overall treated with hostility by this community. In general we care about the solvency of people making our games, and while people may cite the advertisement / networking potential of having free copies of games for people to try, nobody is asserting that we shouldn’t buy and support good games.

          Also EA is the company charging you real money to dig holes in the new Dungeon Keeper game, whereas Mojang is saying shouldn’t charge real money for in-game items. They’re on opposite sides of this thing.

  5. Bull0 says:

    This is a weird climb-down, I think you were right the first time. Who cares what their costs are, they shouldn’t have built a business on something that wasn’t sustainable.

    • LTK says:

      I’m with you, I don’t see why this article was necessary. Kotaku reports that ‘server owners are unhappy’, that doesn’t mean ‘the situation is more complicated than it seems’.

      • wafalumps says:

        It is more complicated than it seems because server owner’s aren’t just charging for access to play Minecraft on their servers. A lot of the most popular servers have plug-ins/mini-games that have been developed that are much different then the base Minecraft experience. Minecraft has essentially become the platform for these new types of games.

        Mojang has the choice to do what they want since it is their product but they risk alienating the community/server owners who are spending a lot of time and money to make the game even better than it was.

        • Bull0 says:

          You’re still allowed to charge for access to the server, you just aren’t allowed to charge player X more than player Y and then in return give player X an advantage, because that’s scummy. Honestly that’s more than fair since the EULA says you aren’t allowed to make money from minecraft, full stop.

        • Frank says:

          Just chiming into second Bull0:

          Your argument is nonsense. If they have some nice mod, they can still charge for access at the door.

          • wafalumps says:

            That is definitely a solution but this still negatively impacts the current community that has been built imo. Currently I can go on a server play some mods and have a good time for no charge. If I enjoy the server experience and am playing on it often I can pay some money to get some perks and maybe these give me some extra starting items (which can save you time in obtaining an item in game) in a game or let me restart a long game once I die so I can keep playing. There may also be a members only area that I can choose to enter.

            If I don’t pay any money then I can still be part of the games and I help create a bigger community of people to play with. This is part of the premise of free to play games – most people will play for free but the hardcore players will spend money that supports the server/development.

            I don’t think the current system is a bad thing. It allows us to vote with our wallets on the servers that are good and we can then choose to not support exploitative servers.

          • Bull0 says:

            Spin it how you want, pay to win is gaming cancer regardless of your positive experiences with it

          • wafalumps says:

            It’s not my preference, I personally don’t play pay to win games. The nice thing about having an open server system though is you can support people who implement monetization models that fit with your preferences and choose not to support the ones that don’t. I like having choice and that is why I think it should be ok for servers to charge for in game convenience or items.

  6. Chalky says:

    Their complaints seem to boil down to “Oh no it’s not as profitable to provide this service any more”.

    If your hosting or access charges don’t cover the costs of hosting and labour then you need to either reduce costs, raise your prices or find new revenue streams within the licensing terms provided to you. Welcome to the world of business!

    Mojang really are going out of their way to be nice here. Their original stance is completely reasonable.

    • WelshPixie says:

      A million internets for you, Sir. <3 This is exactly it.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      It sounds like these people have been adding to the infrastructure of Minecraft unimpeded for so long that they’ve built an entire metaphorical city in the grey area, dedicating a large amount of time and resources to it, and are now being told to pack up and leave when their futures are now too deeply invested. Sucks to be them!

      • Niko says:

        That’s a good analogy. They’ve lived in that city for too long.

      • Chalky says:

        I find it difficult to imagine that professional server hosting companies are unfamiliar with things like software licensing – nothing has changed in the EULA, what they’re doing has never been permitted. It seems likely that they simply didn’t care about the restriction and thought Mojang would never enforce it since they’re just an indie developer.

        I bet if they were selling access to a piece of Microsoft software they would probably ensure that the entire business didn’t revolve around violating the license agreement.

        Talking about how long they’ve been making money by violating the license would basically be arguing for squatters rights in copyright law which, although rather amusing, probably won’t fly.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          These are often not professionals. I have it on good authority some of these are 13-15 year olds. Others may have the same understanding, though being more mature (who knows, it’s business on the internet, barrier to entry is low, which is great, but sadly education at all levels is again down to personal desires…)

      • TechnicalBen says:

        It really does. We do feel sorry for those who build hoses under a volcano or in a flood plain, BUT… they do need to more. We can help them, but if they throw dirt in our faces, should we feel sorry for what is to come?

  7. Alfius says:

    Bah, if it isn’t 2b2t what’s the point? (although I admit to donating €5 for the upkeep of that server a while ago)

    The above comment is rated F for facetious, the poster guarantees the rights of others to play whatever game modes they like on whichever servers they choose.

  8. WelshPixie says:

    ” outraged reaction to Minecraft’s new no-charging-for-gameplay-affecting items policy”

    Jesus christ dude. It’s not new. You’re a journalist; act like one.

    • Bull0 says:

      Yes. This. Perhaps less confrontationally worded, but this.

      • WelshPixie says:

        I’m mad because he did it yesterday too. And because journalists should know better, go to the source, dig up their own stories and find things out for themselves instead of floundering like fish out of water and helping the perpetuation of misinformation.

        • Lanfranc says:

          I must admit that a lot of the time, it feels like RPS are playing at being journalists, rather than actually working as ones.

          • Alfy says:

            It’s my dim understanding that journalists are paid more than a small share of whatever advertising come the way of their website. Which why there aren’t many journalists anymore.

  9. stojg says:

    Honestly, I don’t see what the fuss is about.. I might be naive, but I believe that Mojang is actually trying to protect the _players_. I don’t think that they are trying to squeeze out dollars from minecraft by preventing others to from hosting servers.

    I don’t often comment on rps, but when I do, I’m like haters gonna hate.

    • SuddenSight says:

      Ah, but we live in a new world now. A world where people have finally bought the microtransaction model, and Kotaku can publish articles like this with a straight face.

  10. LTK says:

    Yeah I don’t see how this changes things at all. That illegitimate servers will break the rules anyway is a non-argument: it doesn’t mean it should be allowed for everyone else. People have built a business model around Minecraft servers and Mojang has decided they will no longer tolerate this, of course the server owners are going to kick up a fuss. But it’s Mojang’s game, and the server owners are required to play by their rules.

  11. vivlo says:

    I’m concerned.

    It’s entirely possible Minecraft owes its success to modding community, to its open-mindness when it comes to what you do with that game, including third parties servers with Pay-to-win features. If this goes to disappear, and if – as some seem to imply – an important chunk of the modding scene is to disappear along with that, it might be the beginning of the end for Minecraft. Ie, maybe a legitimate move from a legal and mora standpoint, but not so good when it comes to giving that game a future. Maybe ironical, given the outstanding lifespan of that game already…

    • LTK says:

      I don’t follow. Yes, Minecraft may owe its continued success to the modding community. But how much does that have to do with server owners charging for gameplay modes or features? You seem to imply that these modders make a living from running servers, which I highly doubt.

      And even if what you’re saying is true and this move kills Minecraft’s multiplayer popularity, so what? It would be a shame if many servers would no longer be able to run, yes, but it is not Mojang’s duty to ensure their game stays popular.

      • observerrr says:

        Can’t you host a non-dedicated server using the game options, so anyone can do it?

      • GuillaumeJ says:

        Modded Servers are a big part of I think Minecraft success : there’s just so much gameplay out there that it’s a big selling point.

        I’m been wondering for a long time why Minecraft is so.. not very nice with its mod community :creating a mod was (is stil ?) awful : no automatic compatibility with later versions, having to use the decompiled minecraft source (MCP) to get something done…
        There have been talk of making the process more mod-friendly, but I’m not sure it went through correctly ( http://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/2434866-minecraft-175-modding-dead-since-minecon-2013/ )

        It seems to be to be a least a bit.. ungrateful from Mojang.

        But no too surprising when you read this :

        [3/06/2014 10:05:47 PM] Jake / Dithrlos™ /ZionicGaming™: minecraft relies on it’s servers, and on youtubers.

        [3/06/2014 10:05:50 PM] Erik Broes: it doesn’t

        [3/06/2014 10:06:00 PM] Erik Broes: Minecraft still sells 10k+ copies a day

        Erik Broes was originaly hired to work on the mod API, but not anymore. So I can understand why he’s saying that, but I think he’s fundamentally wrong. (and arrogant)

        • Niko says:

          I guess a lot of people who buy Minecraft eventually start looking into mods, but it’s got more than enough gameplay in it even without them. Like, if I had to choose one game to transplant my mind into with SCIENCE before I die it’ll most likely be Minecraft.

          • GuillaumeJ says:

            I have no way to prove it, of course, but I believe a big part of the – continuous – success of Minecraft is due to the ecosystem : modders, servers, and youtubers.

            I believe that a lot of people would have gone to other games without modders and servers adding tons of new gameplay options. With minimal support (at least on the coding side) from Mojang.

        • iainl says:

          Why should Mojang be “grateful” to modders? Particularly ones who then start whining when it turns out they’re not allowed to make a profit on their Pay-To-Win scams?

    • WelshPixie says:

      Nothing’s going to disappear. People are kicking up a brand new fuss about rules that have existed without change for a year or more (a fact that shoddy reporting doesn’t help to clarify). Anyone that’s built up a server model around EULA-breaking monetisation strategies has nobody to blame but themselves if they get hit with a legal stick, for not paying attention to a EULA that has been present for a long while. Meanwhile those of us who’ve been running our servers in ways that are compliant with the EULA have nothing to fear.

  12. Gilead says:

    This is a strange article. It feels like the original post was a very definitive stance on an issue, and then this one is a half-apologetic ‘It turns out that the situation is nuanced. I am as surprised as any of you, and in a way all of us are all to blame for failing to notice this.’

  13. nopol10 says:

    I don’t see what’s new here. Modding has always been something people take on out of passion and not done for money. You mod a game in your free time if you are willing to sacrifice it and you do it with the knowledge that you won’t (and can’t without approval from the source material’s creators) make money out of it. However if what you do is good enough you can put it on your portfolio if you’re going to be a game developer.

    Furthermore hasn’t it been clarified that they (server owners) can get people to pay for cosmetic items etc?
    Why can’t that be used to cover the cost of running the server and the time spent making server side mods?
    All you have to do is make a $70 monocle for players to buy a la EVE Online :P

    • WelshPixie says:

      There are plenty of legitimate ways that server owners can make money without breaking the EULA. Selling vanity items, accepting donations, using on-site ads – hell, even charging for access to servers. This is all a big fuss over nothing.

  14. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I think it’s indicative of dishonesty that the server maintainers are trying to conflate maintaining a server with writing a mod because one is trivial and it seems reasonable to want to be compensated for the other. Saying that no one in history has ever allowed people to profit from mods in the past and i think it’s odd that these people seem to be oblivious to this president, even valve have in the past forbade it, meaning things like dear esther have to be rewritten to at first be a game which uses the source engine under license and then shift to unity all together because of other legal issues with making the game.

    I do find it interesting that mojang are taking the opposite stance to valve in this instance though as they are generally closely aligned on consumer issues and it’s unclear in this case who is being anti consumer. Is it valves permissive anarchy which is anti consumer or mojangs totalitarian socialism, if feel this is an issue which will probably come down to your political leanings and as a socialist I’m erring towards siding with mojang on this one. It will be interesting to see how valve handle it though.

  15. Neurotic says:

    I don’t really understand this, because as a dedicated Minecrafter myself, on and offline, I never want to have any kind of interference with the game that would *require* me to pay money. Yes, I donate to the servers I play on, but if they start offering customizations and mods that I can’t readily download and use anyway, then eeeee! No thanks.

  16. Dinger says:

    It’s always complicated. Here’s what’s not:
    If your business model depends on a proprietary piece of software, ideally you want it to be your software. If it’s not, then you’re in the special hell of middleware development.
    Mojang feels the need to make a restrictive EULA to protect their players, and hence, their brand. They cannot simply say “We don’t like these guys”; they have to make it restrictive.
    Here’s the thing, they don’t have to enforce it against all violators, but they cannot explicitly exempt anyone from the license. If someone at Mojang says, in an official capacity, “We won’t go after you for X”, then thanks to estoppel, they can’t enforce X.
    So, sure, a legitimate operation will have the uncomfortable situation of working against the EULA and at the whim of Mojang.
    Unless, of course, they negotiated a different contract with Mojang. If you’ve got something with three FTEs and a bunch of servers, you’ve got an investment that requires a contract with Mojang beyond the EULA. It’s time to go pro, and the first thing you need to do is get some small protection that single point of failure that is: “Our business depends on software that is not in our control”.

  17. Crainey says:

    If their servers/communities are as popular as their commitments (staff, lots of servers, infrastructure, proxies and DDOS protection…) to them portray then surely they should be able to sustain themselves by other means, for example Twitch or YouTube. There are a lot of very popular Minecraft YouTubers (to a lesser degree Twitch streamers) who would probably help them achieve this if they are as important to the community as they make out.

    While I cannot disagree with Notch’s stance on this matter I can wholly agree with the comments that these mods make Minecraft what it is (especially important to the longevity of the game) and it would be a big hit to see them disappear (I don’t think they will).

    It’s for these reasons I love the way Valve and others support community creators and I’d like to see more developers do the same.

  18. WelshPixie says:

    https://mojang.com/2014/06/lets-talk-server-monetisation/

    That’s the Mojang blog. The official Mojang blog where all official Mojang news is posted. This is the pertinent bit of the linked article;

    “Legally, you are not allowed to make money from our products. There has been one exception to this rule so far – Minecraft videos. We’re about to make a second exception – Minecraft servers.”

    For those with poor ability to understand words (like some journalists, apparently), this is what that means:

    Previously you were NOT allowed to make any money from Minecraft EXCEPT with Minecraft videos. Previously, you were NOT allowed to make ANY money from Minecraft servers. At all. In any way.

    Now, Mojang are LETTING you make money from Minecraft servers. They are opening up their rules and giving you EXTRA ways to make money from Minecraft while staying within the legalities of the EULA. They are not adding in new restrictions. There are no new rules being added. They are saying, ‘before now, you weren’t legally allowed to make any money from your Minecraft server. Now we’re letting you make money, legally, from your Minecraft server.’

    And people are complaining because… Why? Because idiots? Because poor understanding of English? Because they were previously breaking the EULA and now they’re being told that they can’t quite break the EULA as much as they had been but they still get to do some of the things they’ve been doing that were previously not allowed but ARE allowed now?

    • Niko says:

      Because nanomachines, son.
      (sorry)
      I guess all the reasons and also when you spend too much time in the gray area you can’t see how gray it is.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        I guess all the reasons and also when you spend too much time in the gray area you can’t see how gray it is.

        Yeah it’s hard to see how gray that black area is. The post you’re replying to explains there was no “gray area”. It was black & white but some people decided that meant something else because profit & now they’re upset.

    • Spoon Of Doom says:

      I agree with everything you say. My brain shuts down when I try to understand why people feel in the right to complain about this change, or how so many people apparently thought it was a good idea to build a business on intentionally breaking the EULA.

      What I understand least of all though, is why the gaming press (especially RPS who I have always believed to be more on the common sense and legal side of things) give the whiners so much attention and sympathy, even though they’re actually allowed to do more than they were before. This rather simple situation is blown up like it’s really complicated and nuanced, even though all the arguments against the change boil down to “boohoo, if I take the change as an opportunity to stop breaking the EULA because I’m scared they might actually do something about violations from now on, I’ll make less money than before”.

    • Reapy says:

      Because once a product is modified is it still their product? Can mojang legally enforce the rules they are putting down? If I buy something to use in my modified product, which is still a legal product, does the company that manufactures a part of what I am selling have any say in how I can sell it beyond changing their own product’s price and/or design?

      What If i sold custom bikes? I buy the bike, I paint it, I change the wheels and seat, then sell my bike. Can the original company that sold me the bike say that I am not allowed to resell something I have purchased?

      I don’t like the precedent at all this is trying to establish. Why can’t people make money off of their modifications and hard work?

      • Spoon Of Doom says:

        Two things:
        1. This isn’t really a new precedent – software, including but not limited to games, has always been handled very differently than physical products, and has been bound by licenses which tell you exactly what you are and aren’t allowed to do with it. That was less apparent back in the day when online activation and similar stuff wasn’t yet there because that made it harder to know, let alone do something about someone acting against the license. But that doesn’t make this a new phenomenon.

        2. It’s not like mods, custom content, minigames etc. aren’t allowed. Modded servers can exist, and server owners can charge people to access it, or for subscriptions or whatever (which is more than they were allowed to do before the change, by the way). What they cannot do is sell player X the ability to fly and shoot creepers out of his butt, while non-paying or less-paying players are stuck on the ground and have their walking speed halved.

      • Questionable says:

        Because: copyright. There’s no copyright on a purchased bicycle.

      • supermini says:

        First-sale doctrine does not apply to software because you don’t buy a copy of software, you buy a license to use a copy of software.

  19. derbefrier says:

    Seems pretty cut and dry to me. Some people are gonna lose some money because they have to start playing by the rules so they start playing the woe is me card to us hopeing to turn us against notch and sway public opinion with their sob stories. The bleeding hearts here at rps fall for it and here we are.

  20. GuillaumeJ says:

    I’m wondering : are the official Minecraft Realms a commercial success ?

  21. DarkSaber2k says:

    More entitled attitudes from people who believe it is their right to use someone elses software to build a business.

  22. frightlever says:

    Building your business on top of someone else’s business is always going to be a risk.

  23. ostrich160 says:

    ‘greedy vultures out for freshly minted wallet carrion’
    I hate when people do this as much as the next guy, but as that Matt guy said above, its a business. Its not greedy, its enterprising

  24. cluster says:

    I just don’t get how the gaming press can cover this issue this badly.

    Does anybody would find normal that they leave in the open, people charging free to play features to kids for their game ? Would anybody find not normal that any game company define, or change their definition of what you can or can’t sell within the game. Does anybody find it’s not normal you can’t buy or sell gold for real money on WoW ?

    Was there the same outrage when Bohemian went against “DayZ Bounty” ? No, because those company are within their rights, even worse they would be called out if they didn’t do anything about it.

    And what about covering what the new rules are from Mojang ? Are they fair ? That would be nice to hear, instead of the outrage of people that built businesses on EULA they didn’t read.

    Edit : well thank you for the update, the topic deserved it.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I think it’s because it’s Minecraft, everybody is jumping the gun to be the one to come out soonest with the most dramatic statement in the best possible soundbite. Actually collecting information on what’s really going on can wait, clicks are what matter.

      Oh my I seem to have come over all cynical there.

  25. Eight Rooks says:

    The general complaint among these people seems to be that the things they can charge money for flatly will not make them as much – under any circumstances – as they had been making before. Not enough customers/players care about seeing their name in lights or a message saying U R DONATOR or whatever; they want rewards that specifically allow them to lord it over others with how awesome they are and do things other people cannot do. That Kotaku article links a Reddit post from a server owner who says they tried regular donations and cosmetic items for six months and couldn’t get their costs back. I can understand their frustration, and I don’t think it’s entirely whining and entitlement.

    EDIT: Can’t seem to find where the link was but here’s the URL, anyway:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/playmindcrack/comments/27fdh6/post_got_deleted_from_rminecraft_so_here_you_go/

    That said, I agree they were being ridiculously naive to pin their hopes on earning a wage packet off… a gentleman’s agreement, basically. For all the work that went into some of these modded versions charging to keep them going like this is uncomfortably akin to supporting IAPs in the latest Puzzle & Dragons knockoff and it’s not even slightly surprising Notch and company don’t want any part of it. If human nature means you can’t afford to run these games any other way you can make a strong argument that’s just too bad – that the benefits don’t outweigh the way you’ve had to prop up your business.

    • iainl says:

      It’s whining and entitlement. They are whining that they are entitled to make money on their server hosting, when the market isn’t interested in paying them that much for services Mojang has licensed them to offer. It may be more profitable for bars to refill your your empty Volvic bottle from the tap and re-sell it, but that’s still going to upset Danone.

  26. Frank says:

    Hooray for balanced coverage, but not this:

    “There is also a concern that while legitimate servers will play by the new rules, the ones that made this into a problem to begin with [...] will simply find new ways to break them. From that perspective, nobody wins.”

    Hell yeah somebody wins. How about the vast majority of players? You’re talking about a fringe phenomenon and blowing into something bigger simply to overcompensate for the skepticism described in the last RPS article on the topic.

  27. jrodman says:

    If you have to write “It should be stressed again that the rules are not new.” then you should not be calling them new in the previous paragraph! If you are committed to being confusing you could at least use scare quotes, instead of simply printing misinformation then contradicting it.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Sorry for confusion – the previous paragraph doesn’t say that the rules are new, it states that the policy is. As in the policy of enforcement. This is the key sentence – “The newly published ruleset is a clarification of the existing regulations rather than a modification or expansion”.

      • jrodman says:

        It’s still unreasonably confusing, and foolishly so given the pre-existing confusion. That you still haven’t cleaned up the leadin is extremely unfortunate.

  28. Spoon Of Doom says:

    It should be stressed again that the rules are not new.
    Then why does this need a second article, and how is it complicated? And why does anyone care about the opinion of people who built their business on breaking the EULA? Because as far as I understand, you weren’t allowed to make money from Minecraft servers at all before the change. Now you are allowed, but there are some rules as to what specifically you can do. Nobody is saying or doing anything against mods, minigames or something like that.

    How does this give anyone a reason, let alone the right to be upset? This is a genuine question, and I haven’t seen an answer other than ‘Boohoo, if I stop breaking the EULA, I can’t make as much money as I can when I DO break it’, even though they should count themselves lucky that they weren’t shot down before and were able to earn money in the meantime. And even now, they should feel lucky that instead of cracking down on them, Mojang changed the EULA in the server owner’s favour(!) by allowing them to make money from MC servers.

    This whole thing doesn’t make sense to me, and I can’t understand why those people get so much attention and sympathy. I expected at least RPS to bring some common sense into this discussion, but apparently it’s “complicated”. Although from reading the article, I still don’t understand why it’s complicated.

  29. KONAir says:

    Huh, how much money did they gave back to the Infiniminer coders?

    • Shuck says:

      If someone want to make a brand new game that is only vaguely similar to, but expands upon, what Minecraft has done, they’re perfectly welcome to, and they wouldn’t have to give Notch a thing. But the people under discussion are not – they’re making money running Minecraft servers.

  30. Zaideros says:

    “the purpose of the restrictions rmeains the same as it has ever been”

    Second paragraph, second line down. Interesting that nobody else has noticed this and felt compelled to inform you.

  31. Tei says:

    EPISODE 1: COMPLICATIONS IN MINECRAFTLANDS

    CATESBY:
    Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue!
    The king enacts more wonders than a man,
    Daring an opposite to every danger:
    His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,
    Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death.
    Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!

    KING RICHARD III:
    A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

    CATESBY:
    Withdraw, my lord; I’ll help you to a horse.

  32. paulsoaresjr says:

    “Server owners are unhappy”. You’ve built a business on a foundation made of waterbed. Now just pour in the cement mix. In other words, ADAPT! I can think of at least half a dozen ways to monetize what you’re doing without breaking the EULA.

  33. Stuie says:

    Server owners who thought Minecraft was their personal cash-cow are outraged. No players I know are outraged. Mojang is doing the right thing; get onboard or go find some other way of scamming 10-year-olds out of their allowance.

    • Tei says:

      Have you heard of straw-man arguments? then consider the possibility to remove from your future post descriptions of how you imagine the people that disagree to your opinions. You may have formed the wrong image on your mind of these people (or no people, maybe the people you imagine, don’t exist).

  34. Hahaha says:

    If anyone supports what these server owners are doing and then complains about stuff that devs and publishers are doing need to take a look at themselves. The rest need to educate the mongs that are allowing this to continue.

  35. Chuckleluck says:

    Ahh yes Shotbow. Those morons that keep their ultra-fun plugins to themselves instead of allowing their distribution. I’m not saying it isn’t allowed, but they’re quite like EA with Frostbite. Don’t let the peasants touch it.

  36. Tei says:

    The minecraft modding community is bad, very bad. So toxic and horrible that many people wonder why is that bad.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/feedthebeast/comments/1w47xs/why_is_this_modding_community_so_toxic/


    I have gotten so sick of the actions of the modders in this modding community. If we take a look at other modding communities like Skyrim for instance, there is not one mod author there (that I know of) that uses adfly links, gets pissy over permissions or deliberately crashes the game for any reason.

    Instead of trying to stop people tinkering with their mods, they have made hundreds of compatability patches that allow people to use mods together. A good example of this is a mod called Requiem. Requiem drastically changes a huge number of things and if a mod like that was made in this community I think we’d see other modders who didn’t like the changes it made to their mod(s) introducing malware to stop it working properly. Yet, dozens of modders have added compatability patches through the configuration menu of their own mod and even more separate downloads have been made to let it work with just about anything you could want.

    Another example is a mod pack named STEP that’s mainly focused on the graphical side of the game. It has well over 300 mods I believe and not once have I seen a mod author demanding that their mod be taken out. This is the type of attitude that we, as the users of mods should demand.

    The bold is mine, I bold the adfly thing because was the first thing that surprised me, modders tryiing to monetice their mods. That something incredible odd and bad form, and I am happy most other mod communities don’t do. I would feel a shame for being a modder if other communities where as bad the Minecraft one.

    Why is this? I don’t know. Maybe a bunch of bad apples in the beginning. Maybe its the age of a lot of the players.

    I feel bad for Notch, because is a good men :(

    • GuillaumeJ says:

      How can the modders dare to use adfly ! They should work for free, and never try to get some money for their job, the greedy bastards !

  37. Lemming says:

    “Large server networks are incredibly expensive to run and are very time consuming. Most large networks run hundreds of Minecraft servers, along with enterprise DDOS protection, databases, dedicated proxies, and web infrastructure. In addition to that, many employ full time staff to manage the hundreds of hours of labor required for server maintenance and plugin development.”

    I’m sorry to sound so blunt, but that is outrageously presumptuous to set up up a whole business around what was clearly intended as flexibility for hobbyists.

    As bad as I feel for those losing their jobs who might not have known any different, the forethought and creation of such an enterprise is downright cynical and simply should not have existed in the first place. It’s pure coat-tail riding, IMO.

  38. velocerator says:

    I’m not sure I like the coverage this is getting on RPS, but of course that’s just my opinion. The EULA changes and subsequent enforcement are to prevent two things… One being people making money off of Mojangs product which is protecting their rights, the other being keeping adults from exploiting money from children.

    I don’t see how either of those things are complicated, there’s plenty of ways to pay for the server upkeep.

  39. Alfy says:

    I am completely disagree with all the comments above. Except those parts written by that guy with that cool avatar, those I agree with.

  40. BTA says:

    “Some privately run Minecraft servers do charge for ingame items, for xp boosts, for access to certain game modes. Some of them even charge quite a lot. I don’t even know how many emails we’ve gotten from parents, asking for their hundred dollars back their kid spent on an item pack on a server we have no control over. This was never allowed, but we didn’t crack down on it because we’re constantly incredibly swamped in other work.”

    This is enough to make my question anyone who’s against Mojang’s stance on this. If you’re unable to keep your server up without microtransactions that end up targeting kids, maybe your server shouldn’t be up to begin with. I recognize that’s not true of every server, but I can understand why Mojang would be against this, especially as Notch is pretty anti-f2p as is.

  41. RMA says:

    People seem to be going on about servers where you pay to get diamond swords, and actively ignoring the owners of large server networks who point out that the new policy makes them unworkable, and will cause shutdowns. I say new policy, as it was added to the EULA relatively recently, and not mentioned by Mojang as having this effect till now. I don’t use any of the big networks, but peoples bullishness at ignoring facts that don’t agree with their “hur dur, it only hurts scam servers” view is annoying. Mojang aren’t offering any licensing options for server owners to work with them, but seem intent on just hurting the big networks.

    • Spoon Of Doom says:

      How exactly will it make them unworkable? The only thing that’s not allowed is selling pay-to-win type items to single players. They can still take donations, charge for server access, sell cosmetic items and whatnot.

      Before the new EULA, you technically weren’t allowed to make money from Minecraft servers at all, and the only reason why no servers were shut down was because Mojang did not enforce their license. So the EULA is actually MORE permissive now. Everyone who’s making a fuss seems to be forgetting that all those servers, scam or not, were NOT adhering to the EULA even before this change and have built businesses on that.
      And if you build a business on breaking the EULA, you have no right to be upset when the owners finally decide to enforce the license terms and deserve no pity..

  42. phuzz says:

    Am I the only person that had no idea that Minecraft was such big business? You can run your own server for free, just spin up a VM somewhere surely?

    • happycakes says:

      Pretty much any game with server based multiplayer is vulnerable to these kinds of shenanigans. There use to be a private WoW server which was quite profitable – blizzard eventually sued them and they got railed in court.

      That said it’s really easy to run your own minecraft server, just launch the server executable and connect. The way these guys make their money is just as low as those folks who run those sham apps where you pay through the nose to accomplish anything, target a kid, save the parents CC info, let them go nuts.

      I love how entitled all the modders and server hosts have become. Minecraft is not your creation, just because you made a texture pack or learned to charge for items doesn’t mean it’s your job. That’s a hobby. In reality there is no enterprise in the area. The enterprise is mojang, you are the consumer. If I resell my copy of minecraft to some kid for profit, I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m a dick.

  43. benkc says:

    Even after the edits, the article neglects to mention that Mojang are making the rules *more permissive* than they were before. That seems like a very pertinent piece of information.

  44. Soleyu says:

    I do agree that things like pay-to-win must go, because really, that is messed up and should not be allowed, it decreases the enjoyment of the game and brings about elitism which I think lessens the…”spirit” of the game.

    Having said that, I do think stuff like XP-Boosts should be allowed as long as they are reasonable, because it is really a minor thing that keeps people that can’t play as often but are willing to pay to keep being competitive, in essence it somewhat balances the game. Of course as I said, as long as it’s reasonable, if you can pay 10 bucks to level up 50 times as fast as everyone else, and everyone else levels up at a crawl, it becomes pay-to-win, and that shit is bad.

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